Not resuming helicopter service in northeast: Minister

June 26th, 2011 - 10:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, June 26 (IANS) Nearly two months after Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu died in a chopper crash, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said Sunday there were no plans as yet to resume helicopter services in the northeastern states.

“We have decided to ground all the Pawan Hans helicopters operating in the region until the mapping of chopper routes throughout the region is completed,” Vayalar Ravi told IANS.

“Helicopters cannot fly here and there as per the wishes of the pilots,” said the minister, who inaugurated the new terminal building of Shillong airport in Meghalaya Saturday.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended operations of Pawan Hans Helicopters in the northeast following the Khandu’s chopper crash April 30.

Adding that he had received a status report on the functioning of Pawan Hans helicopters, the minister said: “Some of the helicopters need to be repaired and some of them are old. There is also a suggestion to purchase new helicopters.”

He, however, said that his ministry would welcome any private operators who can provide choppers for better air connectivity in the northeast.

“Let them (private players) submit their proposal and we will examine it,” he added.

Asked about allegations that old choppers were being used in the northeast, which were leading to crashes, Vayalar Ravi said: “We are awaiting the investigation report of the chopper crash of Arunachal Pradesh chief minister.”

A three-member committee has been formed to probe into the circumstances that led to the crash of Khandu’s chopper.

Khandu and four others - two pilots, a personal security officer, and the sister of the Tawang legislator - were killed in the chopper crash April 30. The bodies were retrieved from the crash site at Lobotang near the 13,700 feet Sela Pass in Tawang district May 5 after six days of intense search operations.

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